Are advertisers paying too high a price for star turns?

We are all familiar with the curse of Hello, which descends on celebrities after they appear on its pages in exchange for lovely loot But has the curse been extended to Shredded Wheat? I ask of course because no sooner had Glen Hoddle and his wholesome family appeared spooning down that strange dry stringy stuff then reality broke in.

We are all familiar with the curse of Hello, which descends on

celebrities after they appear on its pages in exchange for lovely loot

But has the curse been extended to Shredded Wheat? I ask of course

because no sooner had Glen Hoddle and his wholesome family appeared

spooning down that strange dry stringy stuff then reality broke in.



Shortly after England’s draw against Italy, when he should have been

basking in the sun of national gratitude, and have been of prime

commercial value in persuading kids to pester their parents for packets

of untampered grain, he announced he was separating from his wife.



Cereal Partners, Shredded Wheat’s makers, decided to withdraw the

campaign but in the process have opened up a potential debate on the

value and attendant dangers of celebrity endorsements and merchandising

deals. There is nothing new in using stars provided they match your

product: after all, Dennis Compton used to advertise Brylcreem. And

Shredded Wheat has a long tradition of attracting top sports stars

including Ian Botham and Jack Charlton to promote its cereal on

screen.



As a classic but staid product competing with sugar-laden junk, it may

have reasoned that it has no alternative but to soldier on down this

road, (I don’t understand why more cereal makers don’t take lessons from

McDonald’s on how to market to kids with improved packet toys and

gadgets).



But, as one advertising executive pointed out to me, the Hoddle ad was,

even by those standards, extremely old-fashioned. It was a simple star

vehicle, and had nothing else: not even a hint of football

expertise.



Yet the use of stars has been on a roll this year - (at least before the

current dispute with Equity sapped some of its power). It has been

impossible to open a paper without reading of deals: The Spice Girls

continue to display a touching commercial consistency in their

willingness to back the lightweight: Channel 5, Walker’s Crisps, and now

guest appearances on the wrappers of Cadbury chocolate bars.



Yet advertisers keen to cash in on celebrity endorsement could learn

buckets from the BBC’s hugely appealing Perfect Day campaign, a

commercial plug masquerading as a public service message. This is

because it approaches its task with a degree of slyness: using a

beautiful song to disarm, while piling on the message that so many stars

care so deeply about the BBC they are happy to sing just one line.



Likewise, anyone contemplating a charity or socially valuable campaign

should watch the interesting Teacher Training Agency cinema ads which

use Tony Blair, David Seaman etc to praise unknown teachers who nurtured

them. It’s a shame that National Libraries Week has made the books its

stars rather than roping in some human ones. Surely footballers read?



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